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Being happy with your body can be all in the mind

By Joseph Pond

Published 19/07/2016

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This is a time of year where many of us are hoping to show a little more skin, either by getting away to sunnier climes or by praying for a blue sky. Sunshine is, of course, essential for health and it just feels good. But exposing our bodies is also an unfortunate embarrassment for some. (Okay, I admit I'm referring to myself!)

If you don't think you have a body that looks amazing on a 50ft billboard, help is at hand. According to research, mindfulness can increase a sense of body satisfaction in as little as three weeks. Even more importantly, the resulting gains in self-appreciation are lasting. Three months after the original study, subsequent follow-ups found that the benefits were maintained.

Considering the amount of stress and expense that we place on ourselves to look a certain way, or to beat ourselves up when we end up not looking like a supermodel, these finding are significant. And to be clear, let me say that no one is advocating mindfulness in place of an active lifestyle or a healthy diet. Although it's important to keep fit, it can be just as important to change the way we relate to our own bodies.

There are many things about ourselves that we can't change. Body dismorphia is a serious disorder and I'd never make light of it. But like most things it seems to me that it's a spectrum and many of us reside somewhere along the sillier end of it. I'm sure we've all met the stunning beauty who thinks that she's ugly because her second toe is too long or for some other equally arbitrary reason.

Loving and accepting yourself is a necessarily foundation on which to build loving, accepting relationships with others. So tell yourself that science is on your side and start practicing mindfulness. It's easy. For 20 minutes a day, focus your attention on your breath. And here's the important part: just accept whatever occurs during the 20 minutes as valid components of your ongoing experience.

It is this daily habit of non-judgmental acceptance which leads to greater body appreciation.

  • Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at josephpond@yahoo.com or at https://www.facebook.com/ Belfast Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl

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